Christmas Marketing at its Best

It's Christmas time, so I thought I would have a little fun with my article this month, not that I don't usually have fun. Since we are all designers, what better topic to discuss than holiday packaging, after all, Christmas time is mass consumerism at its finest. If you ever want to check out brilliant and not so brilliant packaging, this is the time of year to do it. Although I try to be weary of pretty red bows and snowmen dancing across a large pack of fudge dipped cookies I don't need, I am an easy target for holiday consumerism. I find myself in the checkout lane purchasing cookies I don't even like because the packaging is delightful. As designers that's exactly what we want, and since my firm didn't get the opportunity to design any holiday packaging this year, I thought I would share some of my favorites and least favorites.

Let's get the not so great idea out of the way first. The winner of the worst idea for holiday packaging this year goes to Coca-Cola. That's right, I said Coca-Cola. We all know that when dealing with the public at large, we must design to a 5th-grade level (maybe even 3rd). Coca-Cola must have forgotten this rule of thumb because they put out a silver coke can. I didn't say a silver diet coke can; I said a silver coke can. I don't care how cute the polar bears are on the front, or if a portion of the sales goes to saving the polar bears, this was a bad idea. All of those 3rd graders out there (airline attendants included) simply couldn't tell a difference. The actual words just weren't enough. Not to worry, though, Coke received so many complaints that they are redoing the cans in red.

These next two, I simply thought were hilarious. I just love how advertisers mark packages with "limited edition" when they want you to purchase it immediately. It creates a sense of urgency to buy something that you don't even need. My two favorites this year are the Ritz snowflake limited edition and the Pringle Bells limited edition. As you might have guessed, the Ritz crackers have a snowflake design on the front. I guess that's nice, but I'm just going to cover that cracker with Easy Cheese, so I'm not sure it makes a difference.

The Pringles Bells potato chips have a cute Pringle chip on the front dressed as Rudolph, wearing antlers and a shiny red nose. The flavor is the original sour cream and onion, but you better hurry or you won't get to see a chip dressed like Rudolph, because after all, it is limited edition, meaning the amount is limited to the first 1,000 idiots, I mean consumers, who buy them.

Now for my favorites… this is the part where I become one of the idiots buying up useless stuff I don't need. You can pretty much count on me to buy anything with the name Reese's in front of it, be it a Christmas tree or a holiday bell. M&M's has a new flavor out called cherry cordial. Yes please, sign me up for five bags. Although I'm not a fan of Oreo's with random red icing that tastes the same as regular Oreo's, I do love the candy cane Oreo's. They taste like chocolate and peppermint, and the packaging is covered with snowflakes and candy canes. How could you not buy that? I scream, you scream, we all scream for Edy's peppermint ice cream, and yes it's limited edition. These beautiful pink containers covered in peppermints scream, "It's Christmas. Buy me!" I can actually hear it when I walk through the store.

There is one package this year that really stood out to me. I know this might come as a shock, but it has nothing to do with chocolate or ice cream. Weird right? TAZO has a new tea out for the holiday called Joy. I have always admired TAZO's packaging, but this one takes the cake. It comes in a beautiful tin canister colored with crimson and silver. Part of what makes this great is the name, Joy. Who could resist giving someone Joy for Christmas? There will be several people on my Christmas list this year receiving Joy. If you aren't sold yet, then check out this story on the side of the canister: "Some believe a fourth wise man intended to bring a gift of TAZO® Joy™ tea but missed the caravan when his holiday houseguest decided to stay one more night." TAZO has brilliant marketing and design. I would love to get the opportunity to design one of their packages one day.

Merry Christmas and happy shopping!

Sherry Pappas

Sherry Kington

Teacher and Part-Time Author